Five years ago today Glasgow Warriors made a signing that might not have had the immediate impact in the fans’ consciousness of a Simone Favaro or a Taqele Naiyaravoro but who has surely had more influence over the club’s fortunes than any single player. Nathan Bombrys has successfully managed the Warriors’ budget and commercial and matchday operations during a period in which the club has grown almost beyond recognition.
He may have been born (and raised) in the USA but Nathan has been immersed in rugby for many years. He first discovered the game at Syracuse University (go Hammerheads!) and played for 17 years. He also qualified as a referee – a fact possibly best kept secret given the Scotstoun crowd’s sometimes fractious relationship with match officials! He wasn’t at SU simply for the rugby though, graduating with a BFA in Film Drama of all subjects. Is Nathan’s influence the real reason for all the dramatic slow-mo shots that are a regular feature of Warriors’ HQ?
The best thing to come out of Michigan since the Ford Mustang, Nathan has been the driving force behind the club’s off-field transformation. All the developments and improvements have been with the sole intention of creating a stronger club on the pitch and wherever possible he has given the coaches and playing staff the support and conditions to be successful.
Nathan’s first big task as Warriors’ Managing Director was to oversee the move from Firhill to Scotstoun. Crucially this brought the whole of the clubs’ operations – playing; training; commercial – into one site with facilities appropriate for a professional rugby team.
- Total attendance increased by almost 37,000 from the last season at Firhill to 2015/16, the club’s fourth campaign at Scotstoun
- Season tickets holders have increased from 700 to well over 4,000.
- It’s in the area of sponsorships that Nathan has had the most direct influence. When he arrived the Warriors had just 6 sponsors – this has jumped up to 32, with another 75 companies engaged through the Business Club, bringing additional funds and exposure to the club.
- There has been a strong focus on building relationships with clubs and community projects and players, coaches and staff can regularly be seen helping out around the region.
- Most recently of course the Managing Director was one of the key players in delivering Glasgow’s new artificial surface and further extending the capacity of Scotstoun.
- If there’s one key legacy that Nathan has bequeathed to the club though it must be…beards. He has always been on point, setting a trend which has been gleefully taken up by the players. 5 years ago there was nary a beard in sight in the Glasgow squad photo. These days its all about the facial fuzz!
Nathan has a strong profile in the rugby community, not least due to previous roles that include 7 years at Sale Sharks and a spell with the SRU . He recently appeared on the CEO Council at Rugby Expo alongside the Saracens, Wasps and St Helens’ head honchos and is also the Scottish Rugby representative on PRO 12 Rugby Operations Sub-committee. It’s important that Glasgow’s voice is heard as power shifts from Unions to clubs being the key influencers on how the game is developing.
The only disadvantage of the Warriors’ MD being held in such high regard is the risk that he is poached by another organisation! As an example he was mentioned in dispatches during recent speculation over the hiring of a new CEO for Rugby USA. Fortunately for now Nathan seems content with life on the West coast of Scotland and remains ambitious to take the club further. As the man himself said:
I want to work for a club that wins the Pro12 and wins the European Cup.
There’s work still to be done and the head of the Warriors’ American enclave remains the right man to try and lead Glasgow forward.